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News, 22-28/12/01 (1)

News, 22-28/12/01 (1)

Quote of the week (from ŒNext terrorism war target likely Yemen or in
Africa¹ in the ŒNew World Order¹ section): "My feeling is that what's likely
to happen after Afghanistan is that we'll tackle Yemen, Sudan and Somalia,
and then Lebanon and Syria, and then we'll go after Iraq with an
ultimatum.", Rep Tom Lantos, Democrat. Reassuring, eh?


*  Attack Iraq, Butler urges [After this, and others like it, can anyone
believe that R.Butler was a suitable man to lead the ŒUnited Nations¹
weapons inspection team? Can anyone doubt that the sole purpose of this team
had become to devise pretexts for prolonging the sanctions regime? Can
anyone doubt that the individual most directly, personally responsible for
the fact that there is now no surveillance of Iraq¹s military capacity, is
Richard Butler?]
*  Saddam's henchmen 'ordered crowds to greet MP in Iraq' [by David Rose in
The Observer. This is nasty piece of work aimed to blacken one of the very
few British MPs worthy of respect, George Galloway.]
*  Not a 'single tear' for Iraqi leader [Alexander Rose in the Toronto
National Post has only just discovered S.Hussein¹s first book, never mind
his second. He says its Œdreadful¹, so we assume it must have been
translated into English (surely he wouldn¹t say such a thing without having
read it). He¹s also just discovered the existence of the Koran written in
Saddam¹s blood but saves himself in the nick of time from declaring that to
be Œdreadful¹ too. And he¹s found a Saudi journalist who says Saddam should
be overthrown. So there¹s no problem about Arab opinion.]
*  ŒUS plans Iraq war¹ [This article has Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi
Arabia all declaring their preparedness to cooperate in a war against Iraq]
*  Old plan for Iraq is topical again [Extract. Account of plan devised by
Gen Wayne Downing (ret) for backing INC to overthrow Saddam. we learn that
ŒA 1995 Kurdish insurrection in the north, half-heartedly backed by the CIA
and instigated by the Iraqi National Congress, was crushed by Saddam in
1996. He played one Kurdish faction off against another, executing more than
100 Chalabi supporters.¹ Which wasn¹t how I understood it at the time. It
appeared as a confrontation between the PUK, backed by Iran, which was about
to wipe out the KDP, which turned to Saddam for help ...]
*  The liberal case for attacking Iraq [This is a remarkable piece of what
one is tempted to call Œchutzpah¹. Last week readers will recall a racist
rant from Mr Lowry of the ŒNational Review¹ (ŒEnd Iraq¹). This week he
explains why a new Iraq massacre should be supported by left wing liberals
(and ŒOwlish college professors¹ - somehow he just can¹t keep his cloven
hoof concealed). But we learn the oddest things, for example that April
Glaspie warned S.Hussein NOT to invade Kuwait, when we had all thought she
gave him the go-ahead (ŒSaddam, the represser of women, must go¹); and that
Saddam is the enemy of the Biological Weapons Convention (though he accepted
it), not the US (which refused it). The US refused it, it seems, because
Saddam accepted it. If many thousands of Iraqis wre blown to smithereens ­
and Saddam with them ­ then, Mr Lowry seems to be saying, the US would allow
international inspectors to mull over the trade secrets of its
pharmaceutical industry!]

URL ONLY:,3604,625183,00.html
*  Plan resurfaces to target Saddam
by Julian Borger
Guardian, 28th December
Apart from the name ŒGeneral Wayne Downing¹, there really isn¹t anything new
in this. But the name of the INC adviser is misspelt. It isn¹t ŒBrooke¹ but
ŒBrooke¹, I regret to say.


*  U.S. Inquiry Tried, but Failed, to Link Iraq to Anthrax Attack
*  Doubts arise on Iraqi link to attacks [Extract which expresses fairly
succinctly the present state of knowledge on the Prague connection. Which
amounts to this: Atta was, or wasn¹t, seen with al-Ani in Prague in April
2001. But there is no record of him coming to Prague in April 2001]
*  Iraq fades as likely next target [Extract giving little quoted annual
State Department assessment of Iraq¹s activities in the terrorist domain.
Almost non existent, it concludes.]


*  Russia to make efforts not to allow bombings of Iraq - speaker [The
interest of this article does not lie in the opinions of the speaker of the
Russian Duma but in the movements of the Qatari Emir sheikh Hamad bin
Hhalifa Al Thani]
*  Daily cautions Saudi gov't of pro-Iraqi policy [Iran News, warning Saudis
against friendship with the US and Britain (responsible for the Taliban
debacle) and also against overtures they¹ve apparently been making towards
*  Progress in the Iraqi-Iranian talks [Although all this exchange of
prisoners and of the dead seems incredibly slow and tedious, at least it is
happening, unlike the similar negotiations with Kuwait. Perhaps because the
US and Britain haven¹t insisted on inserting themselves into the process.]
*  Turkey Renews Mandate for North Iraq Patrols [This renewal is opposed by
the ŒIslamist opposition¹. You know, the one that was the democratically
elected government until it was overthrown by a US  backed military coup]
*  Iraq minister to visit Tehran next month
*  Iran and Iraq want big cuts in oil production

AND, IN NEWS, 22-28/12/01 (2)

*  Iraq Reports a Hit on 'Enemy' Craft
*  Iraqi FM: Iran-Iraq relations have roots in history
*  Iraq hits out at Turkey over no-fly zone mandate [Some good advice to
Turkey from Baghdad]
*  Iraqis cut ties with UAE
*  Abu al-Ragheb [Prime Minister of Jordan] to visit Iraq [The article seems
to suggests that King Abdallah is willing to act as Bush¹s messenger boy to
*  Amman endorses construction of Jordan-Iraq oil pipeline
*  Egyptian- Iraqi talks [on energy supply]
*  Egypt refuses American request to minimize trade relations with Iraq
[Here¹s a little piece of good news I seem to have missed a couple of weeks
*  Malka: Iraq to target Israel if US attacks
*  Turkey's Hand Forced if U.S. Hits Iraq [Broad summary of current
Turkey/Iraq relations]


*  Sanctions Thwart Iraqi Trade [Encouraging article from Uganda which tells
us that: Œshrewd business people, who defy the UN sanctions, ply between
Jordan and Iraq, doing brisk business. "Although Iraq is under UN-imposed
sanctions, its industries are in full production. They produce textiles,
footwear and have plenty of foodstuffs in markets."¹]


*  Iraq presents UN with oil-for-food programme


*  Hain says Iraq action must be U.N.-backed
*  Kennedy warns against Iraq attack [Charles Kennedy sees La Vie en Rose]


*  What really has been won in Afghanistan [rather interesting expression of
contempt for the American way of making war: Œthere will undoubtedly be more
famous victories. Until, that is, Iraq is included. That is a nation with a
government and an army, and it might well fight back. Can Dubya work up
courage in a way his father could not to get Saddam? On the evidence, the
answer would be no. Despite the drum-beating back home, America has fought a
timid war in Afghanistan, mostly from about 6000m in the air.¹]
*  Next terrorism war target likely Yemen or in Africa [We learn something
new every day. Some time ago we learnt that it was Al Qaida, not, as we had
fondly imagined, General Aideed, who chased the Americans out of Somalia.
Now we learn that when the US bombed Sudan in 1998, Al Qaida, not Sudan¹s
leading pharmaceutical manufacturer, was the target.]
*  Precision bombing shows new kind of power

*  US needs to tread warily as it takes the war on terror into Middle East
by Tony Parkinson
The Age (Australia), 23rd December
The title more or les says it all but its quite a good roundup of middle
Eastern opinion. mentioned that the Palestinian spokesperson Dr Hanan
Ashrawi has Œrecently completed a short-term assignment aimed at producing a
more cohesive public diplomacy for the 22 member-states of the Arab League¹
which could be interesting.
*  NATO: Proof needed about Iraq
by John Innes
Scotsman, 27th December
Good to know that we have that tough, independent minded Scotsman Lord
Robertson at the NATO helm, keeping the Americans from doing anything rash.
*  Keep the Nuclear Sword Sharp
by John Foster
Los Angeles Times, 27th December
ŒFor all the uncertainties our world presents, this much is certain: The
world will be a safer place with the continued existence of an ample U.S.
nuclear arsenal.¹ [John Foster, chairman of the independent Panel to Assess
the Reliability, Safety and Security of the U.S. Stockpile, is the former
director of the Livermore Laboratory and the Defense Department's former
director of defense research and engineering.]


*  Americans donate blood for Iraqi children [Voices in the Wilderness]
*  ŒWeapons of mass destruction¹ going nuclear in Iraq [Article largely
about DU from Ramzi Kysia]


*  Unmasking puts Iraqi on guard [This is the case of the Iraqi Œunmasked¹
by the NZ Herald as Saddam¹s stepson. The indications are that, true or not,
this has come as as much a surprise to him as to anyone else]
*  Iraqi Christians get caught up in security web of Miami INS


*  From cockpit to wheelchair [The article gives the astonishing firgure
that of 690,000 troops sent to the War against Iraq, 200,000 have applied
for disability compensation. It gives as likely cause of the problem the
blowing up of Iraqi chemical weapons stores. It does not mention the
possibility that Iraqi civilians living in the vicinity of these stores
might also have been effected. Or what arrangements are being made to
provide them with compensation. It gives this high casualty rate as an
argument for not renewing the war against Iraq, thus strengthening the
perception that under the conditions of the New World Order any country that
wishes to preserve its independence has an interest in developing large
stocks of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.]

INCITEMENT TO HATRED,7034,3482227%255E1557

Sunday Times (Australia), 22nd December

FORMER UN weapons inspector Richard Butler has urged coalition forces to
wage war on Iraq, saying it was clear terrorists were trained there.

Mr Butler, an Australian, was thrown out of Iraq with his weapons inspection
team in 1998 and fears Saddam Hussein has a stockpile of weapons.

"You know there's a big debate in Washington about whether to attack Iraq or
not," Mr Butler told CNN.

"In the light of this kind of information surely that debate heats up

Evidence was emerging that Iraq was one of the countries supporting
terrorists, he said.

"Should we go for them? I suspect we should."

Yesterday an Iraqi man who wants to seek asylum in Australia produced
documents suggesting Saddam Hussein was producing chemical and biological

Also yesterday, other defectors in the US, said Iraq had renovated sites for
storing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and dispatched a team of 30
saboteurs abroad bearing false passports.

Vanity Fair magazine quoted defector Abu Zeinab al-Qurairy, believed to be a
former close aide to Saddam Hussein's son Uday, as administering a
1,200-strong commando force.

Al-Qurairy said he believed Iraq was involved in the September 11 attacks
carried out by teams that remained undercover for years in the west.

Mr Butler said it was emerging that Iraq was a major player.

"I think we've got abundant evidence that says that Iraq is a major player
here and something we should deal with," he said.

"I think Afghanistan is winding down. Should we move on? Yes.

"Should the next target be Iraq? I'm not sure. That is certainly under
active discussion in Washington.

"Were they to decide that that should be the case, well they'd get no
argument from me."

Saddam's regime was horrendous and hostile, he said.

"And now we have evidence today that he and his terrorist training facility
has trained people of the kind that did the World Trade Centre," Mr Butler

"Maybe the actual people.

"I ask you, what more do we need?",6903,624218,00.html

by David Rose
The Observer, 23rd December

One of Saddam Hussein's most senior henchmen, a self-confessed rapist,
murderer and trainer of terrorists, was the main behind-the-scenes organiser
of repeated trips to Baghdad by Labour MP George Galloway The Observer has

Abu Zeinab al-Qurairy, a Brigadier-General in Iraq's brutal security
service, the Mukhabarat, told The Observer that the visits by Mr Galloway -
a passionate opponent of UN sanctions against the country - were seen by
Saddam as a vital propaganda coup. He said that he and his colleagues were
ordered to make sure the visits ran smoothly and he was personally
responsible for rounding up vast, apparently enthusiastic crowds to cheer

'We had to show his trips had been successful,' al-Qurairy said. 'We
mobilised all types of associations, including women's unions, students and
trade unions, to go on the streets and greet him.'

Few of the hundreds of thousands made to turn out would have done so
voluntarily, he said. 'The people are struggling to find the money for their
dinner. The last thing on anyone's mind is to greet Galloway. His visits are
like Saddam's birthday because everyone must come out.'

Asked what would have happened to those who defied the Mukhabarat's
invitation, al Qurairy said: 'Whoever it was would have to have a

The disclosure that arrangements for Galloway's visits were orchestrated by
the Mukhabarat will intensify the controversy around the MP, who has been an
effective opponent of the Government's war against terrorism.

In Baghdad in 1994, he told Saddam: 'Sir, I salute your courage, your
strength, your indefatigability and I want you to know we are with you' -
remarks which he later said had been meant to refer to the Iraqi people, not
their murderous President. Subsequently he has dubbed Saddam a 'brutal
dictator', insisting his concern is limited to the 'crime' of international

Nevertheless, al-Qurairy said that in Iraq, Galloway was seen as 'both a
friend of Iraq and of the regime'. He said that, since the mid-Nineties, he
had been asked to make security and other arrangements for Galloway's
visits, and to have him treated in a style normally reserved for foreign
heads of state.

Galloway, MP for Glasgow Kelvin, said he could not recall meeting al-Qurairy
and was unaware the Mukhabarat had helped to arrange his visits. He said his
own contact was deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

Galloway's opposition to sanctions came to a head in 1998 when he founded
the Mariam Appeal, initially to publicise the plight of leukaemia patient
Mariam Hamza, then aged four. It became a broad anti-sanctions campaign,
which has aroused widespread opposition to Western policy.

The appeal is not a registered charity and publishes no accounts, although
it continues to use Mariam's plight and her photograph to appeal for
donations from the public. Galloway said it had raised money to help other
Iraqis with medical problems.

The Mariam Appeal has paid for numerous foreign trips Galloway has declared
in the Commons Register of Interests, including five visits to Iraq, two to
the United States and one each to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Hungary,
Belgium and Romania. Galloway said all these trips were made to campaign
against sanctions.

The appeal's highpoint was a trip by Galloway and his supporters from
Glasgow to Baghdad in a London bus in 1999. Its website describes a
triumphal progress, with joyful crowds blocking the roads and singing 1960s
peace anthems. This, al-Qurairy said, was entirely stage-managed by the

Galloway said: 'Maybe the Brigadier-General organised it. Maybe he didn't. I
looked into the eyes of the two million people who came out to greet the bus
and I don't believe their affection was not genuine.' He also claimed that
anything al-Qurairy said was suspect because he had defected: 'All defectors
have a role to play: to damage Iraq.'

National Post (Toronto), 24th December

>From his listening post in Washington, National Post's Alexander Rose has
compiled Dispatches, a weekly notebook providing context and commentary on
international events.


For the first time, cracks are appearing in the conventional wisdom that the
"Arab world" will explode if Washington attacks Iraq to oust Saddam
Hussein's Ba'athist regime. An article by Abd-al-Rahman al-Rashid in the
Jedda Arab News, a pro-government Saudi Arabian newspaper, declared
yesterday "there is nobody who would shed a single tear if Saddam were
removed from power. The fear is that Saddam will not be removed and so the
tragedy will continue on into the unforeseeable future." The problem with
the regime "is that it can't change its attitude in support of terrorism,"
noted the author, concluding that "there is general agreement in the Arab
world that if the removal of the Iraqi regime would end the crises in the
region, it would be better done sooner rather than later."


The big question is whether Mr. al-Rashid's opinion is a lone voice or if it
reflects unspoken Middle Eastern "official" policy. After all, Saudi Arabia,
which has relied on massive social spending and staying on the Islamists'
good side to keep the royal House of Saud in power, may reinvigorate its
credentials as leader of the Islamic world in the light of next year's
projected $12-billion budget shortfall. Riyadh has declared it will not
borrow from foreign lenders to finance the debt, but will issue bonds and
undertake certain economic reforms. Social spending and lavish tribal
patronage will, predictably, fall, perhaps leading to dangerous upheaval. To
divert the attention of the masses, Riyadh may seek to distance itself from
the West and make a point of opposing Washington's policies.


Providing - perhaps - further evidence of the links between Iraq and
terrorism, the Spanish newspaper Madrid ABC reports an Iraqi national named
"Fael," aged in his 20s, took a pilot's course at Cordoba airport and then
"vanished" 10 days before the Sept. 11 attacks. His strange requests alarmed
his tutors, who alerted Madrid. Fael was particularly interested in knowing
"by memory" the cockpit of the aircraft and he insistently asked to be given
a special G-suit, used in combat aircraft or in very sudden manoeuvres.



That's Incredible! Part 2: Last week, Dispatches highlighted Saddam
Hussein's authorship of a dreadful romance-novel, Zabibah and the King. Now,
the New York Times reports, an Iraqi mosque possesses a Koran for which
Saddam Hussein apparently donated 50 pints of blood -- his own, one assumes
-- to produce the ink for the 600-page tome.

Hindustani Times, 25th December

(New York, December 24 ­ PTI/AFP): President George W Bush has thrown hints
that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein might be the next target in the US war
on terrorism, according to a media report.

Bush and his national security team have decided that Saddam must go. "The
question is not if the United States is going to hit Iraq, the question is
when," the report quoted a senior American envoy in West Asia as saying.

Faced with such "resolve", the report said, "crucial allies of the US in the
region ‹ Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia -- all of which border Iraq
‹ are quietly saying they're ready to cooperate".

"If there is a war against terror, then Iraq is part of the terror," the
report in Newsweek quoted Kuwaiti information minister Ahmad Al-Fahad
Al-Sabah as saying.

An advisor to Saudi crown prince Abdullah said discussions about targeting
Saddam had already begun.

Listing some "potent signals under the present circumstances", the report
says Pentagon is building up its administrative resources in the region and
preparing for the contingencies of war.

 by James Zumwalt
Los Angeles Times, 26th December

[James Zumwalt is a retired Marine lieutenant colonel who served in the
Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars.]

Long before the fall of the last Taliban and Al Qaeda stronghold at Tora
Bora, White House officials were considering where next to strike a blow
against terrorism. Iraq is among the targets being considered. However,
numerous factors must first be weighed, including the fighting capability of
the Iraqi army.

While some see Saddam Hussein's army as formidable, others feel such is not
the case. As one who had the opportunity to interrogate senior Iraqi
officers during the Persian Gulf War, I would like to share some insights.

With the rapid collapse of the Iraqi army after U.S. ground forces entered
Kuwait and Iraq, I led a team to interrogate 10 Iraqi battalion and
regimental commanders. What these commanders voluntarily shared about their
army's capabilities--or, more precisely, its lack thereof--was astonishing.
While on paper the Iraqi army looked formidable--a long-toothed tiger poised
to attack or defend--in reality, the tiger was made of paper. Ironically,
the army's greatest strength--a dictator determined to build a massive war
machine--was also its greatest weakness. As it turned out, it was not only
Iraq's neighbors who feared Hussein's army, but Hussein himself. As a
result, the Iraqi army that U.S. forces encountered in February 1991 lacked
leadership, training and motivation.

With one of the world's largest armies under arms in 1990, Hussein took
great pride in using his military muscle against relatively defenseless

Yet, driven by fear that a powerful army posed just as great a threat to him
personally, he also took steps to emasculate his own army's fighting
capabilities before employing it against his much smaller neighbor.

One of the most important elements in fielding a capable fighting force in
wartime is ensuring it is well trained in peacetime. U.S. forces constantly
undergo peacetime combined arms training, during which all elements of its
fighting capabilities--ground, air, artillery--are well coordinated.

The Iraqi army, however, was never permitted to undertake such training by
Hussein because he feared the more time his military leaders spent together,
the more opportunity they had to plot against him.

As a result, Iraqi commanders had little understanding of how best to employ
their ground forces, tanks, artillery and--had their pilots not run for
cover--air power.

Iraqi commanders also failed to take any initiative. Hussein had a practice
of removing, either temporarily or more permanently by execution, those
exhibiting too much initiative. As a result, commanders felt safer
maintaining a low profile, fearing even to report faulty equipment or

In one case, a commander who reported a high desertion rate during the U.S.
air war was shot. The desertion rate immediately dropped--at least from a
reporting standpoint. In reality, the rates drastically increased, reaching
as high as 80% for some units.

Without their commanders taking initiative, Iraqi soldiers who did not
desert were on their own. The battlefield tactics they developed were keyed
to what the combat situation dictated.

For example, they noticed that U.S. planes would only concentrate fire on
Iraqi vehicles, so they learned to quickly abandon a vehicle as soon as it
came under air attack.

Combat intelligence was nonexistent for the Iraqi army during the war, again
because Hussein feared that too much information in the hands of his
subordinates posed a danger to him. Iraqi commanders were kept continually
in the dark, not only about their own force dispositions but also about the
disposition of U.S. or allied units they were facing.

A difficult element to assess in the current debate about the Iraqi army's
fighting capability is the commitment of its warriors to their cause. In the
Persian Gulf War, such a commitment was lacking as most Iraqis felt it was
wrong to invade Kuwait. If the U.S. were now to attack Iraq, however, they
might feel more of a sense of commitment in defending their own country.

In the final analysis, the Iraqi army, despite its impressive numbers and
armament, possesses the same Achilles' heel today that it had over a decade
ago--Saddam Hussein. As long as Hussein fears his army may turn against him,
he is content to emasculate it.

Should the decision be made to target Iraq next, we will, as we did a decade
earlier, solidly defeat its army.

This time, however, we must ensure the tyrant does not survive.

by Michael Dobbs,
News and Observer (from The Washington Post), 26th December


Military analysts point out that the Iraqi army is nearly 20 times the size
of the Taliban army, with 10 times as many tanks. The Iraqi opposition has
less experience fighting the regime than Afghanistan's Northern Alliance.
Most worrying of all, unlike the Taliban, Saddam may well have chemical and
biological weapons, or even a crude nuclear device.

White House deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley said in an
interview that the administration had done some "planning and thinking"
about Iraq in the spring and early summer, but the activity hit "a pause,"
partly because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He said the president and
his closest national security advisers were preoccupied with the hunt for
Osama bin Laden.

Earlier attempts to overthrow Saddam flopped. According to Iraqi National
Congress President Ahmed Chalabi, there have been half a dozen
U.S.-supported coup attempts or insurrections in Iraq since the gulf war,
all of them quelled by Saddam's internal security forces. Popular uprisings
against Saddam have fared little better. A 1995 Kurdish insurrection in the
north, half-heartedly backed by the CIA and instigated by the Iraqi National
Congress, was crushed by Saddam in 1996. He played one Kurdish faction off
against another, executing more than 100 Chalabi supporters.

Chalabi blamed the defeat on inadequate support from the United States. A
former banker educated at the University of Chicago, he lobbied Congress to
pass what eventually became known as the Iraq Liberation Act, a 1998 law
that allocated $97 million to the training of anti-Saddam guerrilla groups.

Lending military respectability to Chalabi's ideas was Downing, a retired
four-star general who played a key role in overthrowing Panama's Manuel
Noriega in 1989 and ran insurgency operations in Iraq in 1991 as the head of
the Joint Special Operations Command. In the words of an official of the
Iraqi National Congress, Downing agreed to put Chalabi's ideas into

Downing was assisted by a former CIA agent, Duane "Dewey" Clarridge, who ran
the U.S. backed Contras who fought the leftist Sandanista regime in
Nicaragua during the Reagan administration. Together, the two men drew up a
plan to train about 200 Iraqi National Congress fighters, who would train
another 5,000 men to be inserted into southern Iraq from Kuwait, where they
would seize a deserted air base near the city of Basra.

Even though it became the basis for the Iraq Liberation Act, the Downing
plan was savaged by much of the U.S. military establishment, including
officers of the U.S. Central Command, which would bear responsibility for
military operations against Iraq.

by Rich Lowry (from the National Review)
National Post (Toronto), 28th December

The push to liberate Iraq is being portrayed as an inherently right-wing
idea. It shouldn't be. Owlish college professors and liberal columnists
should be banging the drums of war loudly, because if there were ever a call
for left-wing hawks, this would be it. Just consider some of the liberal
reasons for toppling Saddam Hussein:

DO IT FOR THE UN If the United Nations is ever going to represent the force
for peace and global order the left wants it to be, at the very least its
resolutions should be abided by. Resolution 1284, passed in 1999, calls for
Iraq to allow inspections by the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection
Commission. Saddam Hussein rejects it. Resolution 687, from back in 1991,
calls on Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein
flouts it.

DO IT FOR THE WOMEN Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for
Women, complains: "What have they done to help Afghan women? Would they have
done this without Sept. 11? It was a side effect. They didn't go in there to
liberate women." Well, when is the last time anyone saw a woman voting in a
free and fair election in Iraq? When is the last time anyone saw a woman
holding a position of major responsibility in the Iraqi government? Or in
business for that matter? Indeed, one theory has it that Saddam ignored a
warning from April Glaspie, then U.S. ambassador to Iraq, not to invade
Kuwait because she was a woman. What are feminists waiting for? Saddam, the
repressor of women, must go.

DO IT FOR THE CHILDREN According to UNICEF, roughly 500,000 children under
age five died in Iraq between 1991 and 1998. By any standard, this is a
tragedy. You can argue about whether sanctions or Saddam are primarily to
blame, but there is no doubt that sanctions are an extremely blunt
instrument and affect not just a targeted government, but its civilian
population. This is why polite opinion celebrates Colin Powell for wanting
to partially lift sanctions on Iraq. But his position should really be an
unacceptable straddle for the left. The truly humanitarian position is to do
away with sanctions entirely, which will only happen if Saddam Hussein is

DO IT FOR ARMS CONTROL The International Atomic Energy Agency is supposed to
be devoted not only to sharing nuclear power with Third World nations, but
also to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein instead
used its good offices to jump-start his nuclear-weapons program. The
Biological Weapons Convention is supposed to stop the scourge of biological
weapons from proliferating around the world. The Bush administration
recently outraged international opinion by rejecting a new protocol for it,
partly because countries like Iraq are so obviously flouting it. How can we
achieve a world community delineated by well-meaning, multilateral
agreements, if leaders such as Saddam Hussein are allowed to resolutely mock

DO IT FOR MUSLIMS Between the Iran-Iraq war, the invasion of Kuwait and the
repression of various uprisings in Iraq, Saddam Hussein has killed more
Muslims than any leader in the Middle East -- including Ariel Sharon. Saddam
Hussein should be ousted so Muslims can practise their "religion of peace,"
in peace.

DO IT FOR NATION-BUILDING The U.S. military was deployed by Bill Clinton to
undertake operations that included a major humanitarian aspect -- Haiti,
Bosnia, Kosovo. Iraq has experienced a catastrophic economic and social
collapse since the Gulf War, and so is as good a target for nation-building
as any. What do Port-au-Prince or Pristina have on Baghdad? Only two things
are keeping the left from following the logic of these arguments. The first
is the idea that Arab popular opinion won't tolerate a war against Saddam
Hussein -- exactly what we heard about the war in Afghanistan. This notion
is so discredited that even Arabs aren't pretending to believe in it any

The second is more fundamental: a distrust of U.S. power so deeply ingrained
that many on the left may not even know it exists. This is why the case
against a war against Saddam Hussein tends to be made in such a flabby way:
Many doves probably don't even really know why they oppose such a war. They
should jettison their fear of U.S. power and instead have the courage of the
rest of their convictions -- and put the liberal back in liberate.


by William J. Broad with David Johnston
Yahoo (from The New York Times), 22nd December

Shortly after the first anthrax victim died in October, the Bush
administration began an intense effort to explore any possible link between
Iraq and the attacks and continued to do so even after scientists determined
that the lethal germ was an American strain, scientists and government
officials said.

But they said that largely secret work had found no evidence to back up the
initial suspicions, which is one reason administration officials have said
recently that the source of the anthrax was most likely domestic.

For months, intelligence agencies searched for Iraqi fingerprints and
scientists investigated whether Baghdad had somehow obtained the so-called
Ames strain of anthrax. Scientists also repeatedly analyzed the powder from
the anthrax-laced envelopes for signs of chemical additives that would point
to Iraq.

"We looked for any shred of evidence that would bear on this, or any foreign
source," a senior intelligence official said of an Iraq connection. "It's
just not there."

The focus on Iraq was based on its record of developing a germ arsenal and
also on what some officials said was a desire on the part of the
administration to find a reason to attack Iraq in the war on terrorism.

"I know there are a number of people who would love an excuse to get after
Iraq," said a top federal scientist involved in the investigation.

>From the start, agents searched for clues in domestic industry, academia and
terror groups. But while investigators were racing to link the Ames strain
to Iraq, they have only recently begun examining government institutions and
contractors in this country that have worked with that strain for years.

In hunting for a culprit in the attacks that killed five people, agents have
chased tens of thousands of tips in the past two months and conducted
thousands of interviews, law enforcement officials said.

They have traced prescriptions for the antibiotic Cipro, on the chance the
perpetrator took the drug to guard against the disease. They have also
checked the language and block- style handwriting on letters sent with the
anthrax against digital databases of threatening letters maintained by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service and Capitol Police.

But officials said no likely suspects have emerged and they are settling in
for what they fear could be a long haul.

The most promising evidence is still the anthrax itself, which federal
scientists and contractors are studying for clues to its origin. The
government tried to find links to Afghanistan and Iraq in the substance as

One discovery early in the inquiry seemed to undercut the foreign thesis.
The anthrax used in the first attack, in Florida, and in subsequent attacks
turned out to be the Ames strain, named after its place of origin in Iowa.
While investigators found that this domestic variety of anthrax had been
shipped to some laboratories overseas, none could be traced to Baghdad.

Nevertheless, government officials continued pushing the Iraq theory,
scientists and officials involved in the inquiry said. They saw an
intriguing clue in reports that Iraq had tried hard to obtain the Ames
strain from British researchers in 1988 and 1989, raising suspicions that it
had eventually succeeded.

Federal scientists hunted down records and biological samples from an
investigation of Iraq's biological arms program, which was conducted by the
United Nations in the 1990's. Those samples were analyzed in laboratories
run by two biologists, Paul S. Keim of Northern Arizona University and Paul
J. Jackson of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico.

But in the end few samples from Iraq's arsenal were found, and those that
were turned out to have nothing in common with the Ames strain, officials

A different line of inquiry sought to re-examine seven anthrax strains that
the world's largest germ bank, the American Type Culture Collection, in
Manassas, Va., sold to Iraq in the 1980's, before the government banned such

None of the strains were identified as Ames. But scientists inside and
outside the government speculated that mislabeling might have inadvertently
put the potent germ in Baghdad's hands. More laboratory tests were ordered.

Raymond H. Cypess, president of the germ bank, said recent investigations
had disproved the mislabeling idea. "We never had it," he said of the Ames
strain, "and we can say that on several levels of analysis."

The Iraq inquiry also looked for chemical clues. An early focus was
bentonite, a clay additive that is one of the few substances identified
publicly that can help reduce the static charge of anthrax spores so they
float more freely and potentially infect more people.

Richard O. Spertzel, a retired microbiologist who led the United Nations'
biological weapons inspections of Iraq, told investigators that Iraq had
explored using bentonite in its germ weapons programs. But Maj. Gen. John
Parker of the Army's biological research center at Fort Detrick, Md., said
in late October that tests had turned up no signs of aluminum a main
building block of bentonite.

"If I can't find aluminum," General Parker told reporters, "I can't say it's

Despite the scientific findings, the sophistication of the anthrax found in
the letter mailed to Senator Tom Daschle, the majority leader, has kept Dr.
Spertzel and others convinced that Iraq or another foreign power could be
behind the attacks.

Richard H. Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University who closely
follows the anthrax inquiry, recently said that the Baghdad thesis "should
not be dismissed as a desperate reach for a casus belli against Iraq" and is
still worth investigating.

Publicly, White House officials have made no mention of the failure to find
an Iraqi connection, but they have noted the inquiry's intensified focus on
the United States. "The evidence is increasingly looking like it was a
domestic source," the White House Press secretary, Ari Fleischer, said on

Tom Ridge, the director of homeland security, said in a statement that he
initially assumed that the culprits were foreigners. "Like many people, when
the case of anthrax emerged so close to Sept. 11, I couldn't believe it was
a coincidence," Mr. Ridge said. "But now, based on the investigative work of
many agencies, we're all more inclined to think that the perpetrator is

It remains unclear whether the focus on Iraq diverted investigators from the
domestic inquiry. But some scientists say a decision made early on suggests
that it might have.

In early October, the F.B.I. raised no objections when officials at Iowa
State University, where the Ames strain was discovered, said they planned to
destroy the university's large collection of anthrax spores for security
reasons. Many biologists now say that step might have destroyed potential
genetic clues to the culprit's identity.

Two months later, the investigation is largely focused in the United States.
As the scientific inquiry into the anthrax itself continues, the F.B.I. is
also employing more traditional forensic and investigative techniques to
find out who sent the lethal letters.

Agents have compiled lengthy lists of who might have manufactured, tested,
transported or stored anthrax. They have questioned manufacturers and
marketers of biochemistry equipment and specialized machinery needed to make
the material. They have inspected scientific literature, which could provide
clues about who has knowledge to make anthrax.

But few clues have emerged. So far only three letters those sent to NBC, The
New York Post and Mr. Daschle have been analyzed. A fourth letter, sent to
Senator Patrick J.Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, is undergoing painstaking
analysis by a number of laboratories, officials said.

All of the letters were photocopies and none appeared to contain any
fingerprints. The plastic tape on the envelopes was a mass marketed variety.
The paper on which the letters were written was an average size. The
envelopes were prestamped and widely available. The marks left by the
photocopier have been carefully studied, but have revealed no clues.

One senior official said nothing the investigators have found has led to
anyone who might remotely be called a suspect. Several people who seemed to
fit the F.B.I.'s profile of a science loner had been aggressively
investigated, but no one has emerged as a serious subject.

"Still, the more you are out there, the more things bubble up," the official
said. But asked whether recent news reports of a possible suspect in the
case were true, the official replied, "I only wish that was true."

Some tips have seemed encouraging, but only for a time.

"We run out every lead and we give these people a real hard look and real
hard shake before we take them off the screen," the official said. "There
have been people who we have placed a little higher priority on than
others." But then they fall off.

Some senior Bush administration officials have begun to worry privately that
the case might take decades to solve, likening it to the Unabomber
investigation that baffled investigators for nearly 20 years until David
Kaczynski became suspicious of his brother Theodore and alerted the F.B.I.

Investigators have used various strategies to find suspects, but have often
been frustrated. When they tried to track down people who had sought
prescriptions for Cipro in the weeks before the anthrax mailings, the effort
quickly bogged down. "Do you know how many people take Cipro in this
country?" an exasperated official said, explaining that Cipro is used to
treat a variety of ailments.

Investigators also said they were continuing to examine the possibility that
the culprit might have purchased stock in the company that makes Cipro in an
effort to profit from the attacks.

The newest front in the search for culprits is the examination of government
research institutions and contractors. The reason to look there is plain:
Some of them have the Ames strain and know how to turn it into the kind of
deadly powder used in the attacks.

But that has added yet another complication to the already challenging
inquiry. After all, investigators have relied on these same experts for
scientific advice from the earliest days of the investigation, back when
Iraq was a prime suspect.

"It puts us in a difficult position," one senior law enforcement official
said. "We're working with these people and looking at them as potential

by Sam Roe
Chicago Tribune, 24th December


Authorities here have not explained how they know Atta met with al-Ani.
Havel has said there was no recording of the meeting but that a Czech
intelligence agent had been monitoring the Iraqi's movements.

Similarly, Czech media report that there is no hard evidence of the
meeting--no pictures, tape recordings or other documentation. The only
evidence, they report, comes from a paid informant of the Czech intelligence
agency who apparently had been following the Iraqi officer.

The Mlada Fronta Dnes newspaper said Czech police and some
counterintelligence officers now believe the informant confused Atta with an
Iraqi businessman from Germany who frequently visited the Iraqi intelligence

While accounts vary, some Czech authorities indicate that Atta visited the
country three times. The first was in May 2000, when he flew to Prague from
Hamburg, Germany, where he lived for eight years. But he did not have a visa
and was not allowed to leave the transit area.

He returned to Prague with the proper documentation a few days later, in
June 2000, and stayed one night at an unknown location before flying to
Newark, N.J.

The third visit reportedly was in April, when Atta allegedly met with the
Iraqi. Czech authorities believe Atta used a false passport to enter the
country for the meeting, according to media reports. If the meeting took
place, it marks the first known contact between one of the Sept. 11
hijackers and a hostile foreign government. Atta is believed to have piloted
one of the jets that slammed into the World Trade Center.


by Timothy M. Phelps
Newsday, 26th December


The annual State Department report on state-sponsored terrorism issued in
April said that Iraq, while engaged in terrorism against its own dissidents,
has not attempted anti-Western terrorist attacks in recent years. Several
terrorist organizations have offices in its capital, Baghdad, the report
says, but they are not very active. There are few known ties between the
secular Iraqi regime and Islamic fundamentalists.



by Ivan Novikov

MOSCOW, Dec 24, 2001 (Itar-Tass via COMTEX) -- Speaker of the State Duma
lower house of parliament Gennady Seleznyov said Russia will make all
efforts in order not to allow bombings of Iraq. He was speaking after a
meeting with Qatari Emir sheikh Hamad bin Hhalifa Al Thani on Monday.

Seleznyov said the Duma had already appealed to the world community not to
allow such development of events. He stressed that Russia not only seeks the
lifting of international sanctions against Iraq in the humanitarian sphere,
but the lifting of all the sanctions.

Commenting on the development of relations between Russia and Qatar,
Seleznyov noted that both countries are ready to strengthen them and develop
in all areas. "I am sure so it will be," he emphasized adding that "the
delegation of such level, which we are receiving today will certainly pave
way for close relations between Russia and Qatar."

In the course of the talks, the speaker said, they had exchanged views on
international terrorism and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The sides emphasized
the important role in the solution of these problems played by the
Organization of the Islamic Conference which Qatar heads at present,
according to Seleznyov.

In his opinion, the visit by a Russian parliamentary delegation to Qatar in
late January 2002 will contribute to the strengthening of relations between
the two states.

The Qatari Emir said in the course of the talks, the sides had consulted
over political and economic issues. He held out hope that contacts between
Qatar and Russia will become more effective.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Qatari Emir will meet
to discuss the main directions of cooperation between the two countries in
the political, trade and economic and humanitarian spheres, sources told

They will also discuss current international problems, such as the
situations in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the anti- terrorist operation
and the Iraqi issue.

The meeting will be followed by talks in expanded format, at which the
parties will consider projects for interaction in various spheres. Among the
most promising fields of cooperation are the oil and gas industry (given the
fact that Qatar ranks third in the world in terms of gas reserves), health
care and education.

Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, upon his arrival in the Russian capital, told
Itar-Tass that Qatar hopes for the development of relations with Russia in
all areas and that it will do its best to facilitate this process.

Experts stressed that Russia and Qatar are interested in attracting to
cooperation both state agencies and business circles. It is planned to
consider the launching of interaction between the chambers of commerce and
industry of the two countries.

Qatari Foreign Minister sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, who
accompanies the emir on his official visit, will hold talks with his Russian
counterpart Igor Ivanov.

Russia values "the active, independent and balanced politics of this Arab
country which heads the Organization of the Islamic Conference," Russian
Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko told Itar-Tass.

After the talks in the Kremlin, the Qatari Emir will leave for Ankara.


Tehran, Dec 25, IRNA -- `Iran News' on Tuesday cautioned the Saudi
government to be wary of, what it called, their `latest overtures' to
Baghdad, advising them not to rush into adopting a pro-Iraqi foreign policy
as they will not benefit anything from it.

The English-language daily went on to praise current ties between Iran and
Saudi Arabia, commending Majlis Speaker, Mehdi Karroubi's ongoing trip to
Riyadh as a `landmark' occasion and a sign of `close' and `cordial'

It warned that the West has been disapproving such close ties, between the
two great nations before and after the Islamic Revolution, noting that it is
particularly unhappy over the current Tehran-Riyadh rapprochement, which
began just five years ago and which brought peace and tranquility to the
whole region.

Bearing this close relationship in mind, the paper however reminded Saudi
Arabia not to forget that it was `scarred' by the September 11 attacks on
New York and Washington.

It criticized US media for exploiting, what it called, `isolated incidents'
which involved Arabs and tarnished the good image of Saudi Arabia, lashing
out at the Western media for failing to acknowledge that the Saudis feel
deceived in the Afghan conflict.

It went on to praise Saudi Arabia's `active and positive role in the Jihad
to repulse the invading Soviet forces'.

As for the entire Taliban affair, the paper believed Saudi suspicion that
the whole episode was devised by MI6 and CIA and they were duped into
contributing cash and material resources.

It further reminded Saudi Arabia that they had spent `billions of dollars to
hoist the Taliban to power, although the latter have been toppled and are
detested in Afghanistan'.

Furthermore, they must not forget that strategy of both London and
Washington in Afghanistan has had disastrous results for Saudi Arabia, the
daily believed.

However, it is noteworthy that Saudi has realized its interests are
`incompatible' with the aims of US and Britain, praised the daily.

But Saudi government's latest overtures to Baghdad must be properly weighed,
calling their decisions `premature and hasty'.

The paper therefore advised Riyadh not to rush into adopting a pro-Iraq
policy, pointing out that all regional problems in the Persian Gulf littoral
states should be resolved through the 6+2 Group.

Yet, it warned, the group will not prove to be effective if Saddam Hussein
is allowed to influence events.

Now that the Saudis have realized that their rush into the Afghan affair
earned the `wrath and hate' of the Afghan people, it would do well if Riyadh
avoids repetition of its past mistakes to avoid any fatal consequences of an
alignment with Saddam Hussein, which will provoke the hatred of the Iraqi
people, it concluded.

Arabic News, 25th December

Talks started on December 21 at the Iraqi foreign ministry headquarters were
resumed on December 23 between the Iraqi and Iranian delegations concerning
the Iraqi and Iranian displaced and refugees in implementation of the idea
of the joint minutes of meetings signed in Tehran on October 23rd.

It was agreed that each of the two countries will distribute voluntary "
return back lists" in coordination with the offices of the UNHCR in Baghdad
and Tehran.

Meantime, an official at the Iraqi foreign ministry said the current
meetings aim at providing all means to provide this operation a success,
facilitate the return back of all displaced and refugees who desire to doing
so, especially as relations between the two countries had witnessed joint
activities for senior technicians concerned with the humanitarian aspect.

News reports close to the talks said the two sides showed their satisfaction
over so far achieved results, especially as the Iraqi government issued its
instruction to return all suspended properties to these who are coming from
Iran and this is in implementation of the general pardoning from all legal
consequences for the Iraqis who had earlier left Iraq illegally.

However, the Iranian delegation arrived last Thursday in Baghdad in a visit
which lasts for several days. The delegation is chaired by the official in
charge of refugees affairs at the Iranian ministry of the interior. The
Iranian side includes officials from both the interior and foreign
ministries; while the Iraqi side to the talks is presided over by Abdul
Sattar al-Qadi, the official in charge of refugees at the Iraqi ministry of
the interior.

Reuters, 25th December

ANKARA: Turkey's parliament on Tuesday extended for six months the mandate
allowing U.S. and British warplanes to patrol the no-fly zone in northern
Iraq as fears mounted that Washington could next target Iraq in its war on

NATO member Turkey, anxious that strikes across the border could stir its
own restive Kurdish population, has joined other U.S. allies to say it
opposes action against Iraq in retaliation for its refusal to allow U.N.
weapons inspectors to return there.

U.S. and British flights from Turkey's southern Incirlik airbase protect
northern Iraqi Kurds in a breakaway enclave and are a crucial part of U.S.
policy against President Saddam Hussein.

Islamist deputies from Turkey's opposition parties told parliament that the
mandate, which has been extended every six months since northern Iraq fell
from Baghdad's control after the 1991 Gulf War, had harmed Turkish
interests, costing it billions of dollars in lost trade with Iraq.

"When this operation began it had a humanitarian mission, but now supplies a
different perspective," said Ali Goren, an Islamist member of parliament,
saying the operation could lead to a new Kurdish state in northern Iraq.

Baghdad does not recognize the no-fly zone and has targeted patrolling
planes with its anti aircraft system.

Turkey's cooperation with its western allies against Iraq has helped it to
conduct an illicit oil trade with Iraqi Kurds and to carry out cross-border
military operations in the enclave in pursuit of its own rebel Kurds.

Reuters, 26th December

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabriis to visit Iran early
next year to discuss issues blocking the normalisation of relations between
the two Muslim neighbours since their ruinous war in the 1980s.

Sabri said on Tuesday he had discussed the visit -- the first such exchange
in several years -- with Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi at the
sidelines of the ministerial meeting of the Organisation of the Islamic
Conference in Doha on December 10.

"I will visit Iran next month, God willing, to hold detailed talks on
pending issues," Iraq's satellite channel quoted Sabri as saying.

"There are files still pending since the 1980s between the two countries and
we are endeavouring to close them and currently there is an Iranian
delegation in Baghdad to solve the problem of displaced people," he said.

Ties have improved between the two countries which fought a an
eight-year-long war in the 1980s. Baghdad has reopened its borders for
Iranian pilgrims to visit Shi'ite shrines in Iraq.

But the thousands of combatants listed as missing in action and prisoners of
war are among key issues blocking the normalisation of ties between the two
Muslim countries.

Iran regularly condemns Iraq for harbouring its main opposition People's
Mujahideen Organisation, while Baghdad accuses Tehran of backing Iraqi
Shi'ite Muslim dissidents.

An Iranian delegation started talks in Baghdad on Friday on the issue of
displaced people of both sides.

"We are optimistic and the Iranian officials are optimistic too that we are
making strides forward," Sabri said.

"There is a big and a certain chance and we, together with our brothers the
Iranian officials, endeavour to seize this chance and work to cement our
steps towards establishing good neighbourly relations between the two
countries," he said.

Iraq said in November that it had agreed with Iran that the best solution to
the problem of refugees was to let them decide whether or not they wished to
return home after their countries confirmed their nationality.

There is no official figure on the number of Iraqi nationals who took refuge
in Iran during the 1991 U.S-led Gulf War to end Iraq's seven-month
occupation of Kuwait or on the Iranian minorities who fled to Iraq during
the Iran-Iraq war.

Up to one million Iraqis and Iranians were killed in the war, which ended
when Iran accepted a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire on August 8, 1988.

Ananova, 26th December

The Iranian and Iraqi oil ministers both expect Opec to announce massive
cuts in oil production tomorrow.

Iran's oil minister wants global oil production to be cut by between 1.8 and
two million barrels a day.

Bijan Namdar Zangeneh made the comments on the eve of a meeting of Opec
ministers to decide reductions by the cartel's 11 members.

Most analysts expect members to approve a cut in production of 1.5 million
barrels a day.

But Iraqi oil minister Amer Mohammad Rashid predicts that Opec output will
be cut by two million barrels per day.

Mr Rashid told Al-Zawra weekly there was no doubt this would lead to a rise
in prices to the level seen before the US terror attacks on September 11.

The Iraqi minister, who left today for the Cairo talks, says the petroleum
exporters' cartel will study "practical ways to support prices".

Iraq, which has been under United Nations sanctions since invading Kuwait in
1990, is not included in Opec's quota system.

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